The Racial Divide in The Hobbit
In The Hobbit J.R.R Tolkien is criticized at times for his racist and race-based elements that he uses in this historic novel. Tolkien uses the characters in The Hobbit and symbolism of the good versus evil to depict that racism in society is destructive. Tolkien was known for his legendarium, which is Tolkien’s imagined world of Arda. Tolkien, throughout the story, references topics related to racism, such as superiority and bloodlines. While Tolkien thought that racism would be destructive for the human race, he still incorporated it into this novel. Its hard to depict if Tolkien is writing about racism but there is not a doubt that in The Hobbit there is racial division and it sets up great talking points. In The Hobbit the author J.R Tolkien uses racism through symbolism and the manipulation of characters and their action to cause controversy in the story and to show that racism is destructive for everyone. Tolkien used symbolism through his characters and Middle Earth to portray that their was some sort of racial divide in The Hobbit. Christine Chism who is a contributor to the website tolkiengateway mentions this issue on Tolkien’s writing, “especially The Hobbit could be in the three categories: intentional racism, unconscious Eurocentric bias, and an evolution from latent racism in Tolkien's early work to a conscious rejection of racist tendencies in his late work, which he may have not indented to do so (Tolkien Gateway).” With the majority of free people from Middle Earth being and white that goes with what was happening during with slaver and anti-Semitism the time The Hobbit was written. The Uruk-Hai were described as black-skinned and the orcs were beast like creatures that could be inferred to as slaves which would cause for racism. In The Hobbit Tolkien portrays the good races being in harmony with nature, With all of the races that Tolkien created in The Hobbit, from elves, dwarves, trolls and goblins they all differed philosophically and morally. From the Elves and Dwarves distrusting each other, the ranks within the Orcs such as the Uruk-hai Orcs, which were the highest ranking to which they held superior over the common Orcs, they called snaga, which translates to slave. This is obvious that Tolkien used these characters as symbols to portray racism in someway. While Tolkien's statement comparing Orcs to the "Mongol-types" is undoubtedly insensitive given today's standards, he does put a disclaimer, "(to Europeans,)" before "least lovely", at least recognizing Western cultural bias and also points out that they were "degraded and repulsive versions" of "Mongol-types", not actual "Mongol-types (Tolkien Gateway). With the ways the Tolkien created the characters from the Orcs to the Hobbits is in indication that he was using racism in some type in The Hobbit, which helped cause Tolkien is guilty of being insensitive of the race, which goes against his virtues of racism being destructive for society. Geoffrey James writes an intriguing article called “The Unsavory Racism of Middle Earth” and how Tolkien’s growing up affected his writing in The Hobbit and how it affected the World War 1 generation. In Tolkien’s generation, the inherent superiority of the light-skinned races over dark-skinned races was considered “scientific fact.” As late as the 1930s, “science” books positioned black people as less evolved than white people. For example, the first edition of the quite popular book The Earth for Sam (an introduction to paleontology for children) states that the “white primate” is the pinnacle of evolution (James). James also goes on to explain that Tolkien’s creation of an essentially racist world would emerge naturally in the early 20th century. James claims that “Tolkien based Middle Earth on medieval Europe and therefore it just reflects racism in that period” (James). Also in the “The Unsavory Racism of Middle Earth” James mentions that one reason why Tolkien created...
Cited: Fisher, Jason. "TOLKIEN, RACE AND CULTURAL HISTORY: FROM FAIRIES TO
HOBBITS." Mythlore 29.1/2 (2010): 167-72
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